Pressing Colored Men!


There was great excitement here on Saturday among our colored inhabitants, produced by the appearance in our midst of a squad of negro soldiers, under command of a white officer, from Paducah, and with orders to press all the Free Americans of African descent into Uncle Abraham's military service. Of course there was a grand flutter of the descendants of Ham. And the fluttering was certainly excusable, from the fact that all had supposed that by standing the draft, and having their names enrolled, they had done all that would be required of them. But it seems that an arrangement had been made between Gen. Thomas and Gen. Hooker, permitting a few officers to come from Paducah to Cairo and Mound City to recruit their commands but they had received no orders which bore them out in forcible recruiting, conscripting or pressing. Major McBride came here with a squad of his armed men, and, from a misunderstanding of his orders, or some other as yet unexplained reason, commenced pressing into the ranks all the barbers, waiters, cooks, and steamboat hands of the colored persuasion, in the city. The natural result of an attack of this kind upon Cairo and her interests — aside from the interest every Illinois militiaman felt in having all the volunteers credited to the proper districts — was of coarse a grand boiling over of the waters, and, subsequently, the arrest of McBride by Col. Sprague, Commandant of the Post. There was much indignation expressed by those who did not understand the matter, but no blood was drawn, no bones broken.

If we understand the matter it is merely a conflict of authority, a question of military jurisdiction, which calm reason and a little time will settle. We have no idea that Gen. Meredith thinks he can send his troops here to conscript even colored men into his command. There was undoubtedly a mistake. Col. Sprague evidently understood his duty in the case, promptly performed it, and is not the man to back down from a position he has assumed when he knows he is right. Every good citizen will applaud him for his action and his watchfulness over the interests of those temporarily under his care.